Shiloh Robinson has emerged as one of Liberty’s best players this season as the junior forward has become a steady force on both ends of the floor for the Flames.
Robinson’s path to becoming a potential all-conference player has not been the typical one. He joined the program as a true freshman prior to the 2019-20 season. It was expected that the 6’7″ forward from Kearney, Nebraska would redshirt as he joined a veteran laded team. The Flames were coming off an NCAA Tournament win with a lot of returning talent including Caleb Homesley, Scottie James, Myo Baxter-Bell, and Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz.
Coming in with the highest rated recruit in program history, Kyle Rode, Robinson did not have all the fan fare entering his true freshman season. In addition to the previously mentioned players, Shiloh was likely also going to be behind Blake Preston in fighting for minutes at forward.
He wouldn’t let those assumptions become reality as Robinson proved during the preseason that he was too good to keep off the floor. Head coach Ritchie McKay, who values being able to redshirt true freshmen, thought the youngster could provide something for the team on the floor.
Robinson would carve out a nice role for himself on the team that season, helping the Flames to one of the best years in school history. Liberty would win 30 games that season and a second straight ASUN championship before the 2020 NCAA Tournament was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.
As a true freshman, Robinson averaged 10.9 minutes per game and became a player that was counted on by his coaches and teammates as a defensive stopper. His offensive game had yet to catch up to his potential, as he averaged just 2.6 points per game while shooting 46.6% from the field.
Last season, in his second with the program, Robinson saw an uptick in playing time and production. He played 14.8 minutes per game while averaging 4.1 points per game and shooting 50.5% from the field. He continued to grow into a force on the defensive end while still seeking confidence in his offensive game.
“Look who he was playing behind as a freshman, Caleb Homesley,” said McKay. “As a sophomore, he got more minutes and had a much bigger role than his freshman year. He wasn’t quite as confident yet.”
Entering this year, the Flames were hoping Robinson would take that next step. He began to show progress early in the season, but he still struggled to put it all together on a consistent basis. At some point in late November, the flip switched for Shiloh.
After scoring in double figures just once in his first 68 games as a Flame, including the first five games this season, Robinson has reached double figures nine times in the past 13 games including a stretch of five straight. In games against North Florida and FGCU a couple weeks ago, he set a new career high in scoring, first with 16 at Stetson on Jan. 4 and then scoring 21 in Liberty’s ASUN home opener on Jan. 11.
“I think he’s having an all-conference type of year,” McKay said of Robinson. “He’s really grown as a player and a person. His confidence is really high. His value to our team is immense. Not surprised by it, he’s been practicing that way. He puts the time in. He takes care of his body and has the selflessness that warrants a big opportunity.”
Coach McKay has frequently mentioned his affinity to redshirting players their first season on campus when he can. The longer players stay in his system, particularly the Packline defense, the more of an expert he can become. Sometimes players in this system have a year or two of learning all the intricacies. At the same time, their bodies are developing from playing high school ball to competing at the Division I level. Robinson is a prime example of someone who had an important role early in his career, and now he has seen that role blossom into a premier piece for the Flames.
“He’s as good a defender as there is in the league, and, offensively, he is confident,” McKay said. “It’s what you hope for when you recruit him because you see that potential, but that development comes from ownership of the players and a great assistant coaching staff. I think our program is developmental, at least I hope so. I think Shiloh is a prime example of owning that and really flourishing because I think he’s having a great year.”
On the season, Robinson is currently averaging 9.8 points per game while leading the team by making 64.5% of his field goals. He has started 15 of the 17 games and is fourth on the team in minutes played per game at 26.5.
Not only has his offensive game turned a corner, he continues to be one of Liberty’s top defenders. While scoring 21 points against the Ospreys, he also had the top defensive assignment by checking UNF’s Carter Hendricksen. Robinson helped slow the veteran forward, as he made only four of 16 field goals on the evening.
“I’ve got some really good teammates who help me get open,” Robinson said of his increased scoring production. “I set screens for Darius (McGhee) and Brody (Peebles) and roll, and they are able to find me. We have some great coaches that make concepts that are easy to understand, and we are able to execute them well.”
McGhee had equally flattering words of his teammate, calling him one of the hardest workers on the team.
“Since the moment Shiloh stepped on campus, we all knew his versatility and skill set on both ends of the floor,” McGhee said. “I think he’s done a great job of just working at it each and every day. No matter if guys are in here or people see him working, he’s always pretty much the first one in the gym, if I’m being honest. We knew before long it would all come to fruition. He’s been playing great, he’s confident, and he’s staying within himself. He doesn’t try to do too much. Shiloh is always Shiloh. No matter what game, who we play, he’s always going to do what he does. I love playing with him. He makes the game really easy on the offensive and defensive end.”